It seems like every other week, there is a mass shooting in the news. Just this week, a gun-wielding man injured 9 and killed 1 person on the popular Bourbon Street in New Orleans on Sunday, while another man injured 11 people with his car and a knife on Ohio State University campus on Monday.
In fact, the Gun Violence Archive recently ran a study that showed that on average, a mass shooting occurs in the United States on 5 out of every 6 days. They defined 'mass shooting' as an incident that leaves 4 or more dead, not including the shooter.
The problem has gained nationwide attention, and recent events have spurred President Barack Obama to announce “We have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world.”
In 2016, the June 12th massacre at Pulse (a LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando) which was the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, saw the tragic deaths of 49 people. (The deadliest massacres were back in the 1800's and 1900's, when white mobs and American troops killed hundreds of Native American and Black people in each of the Tulsa Massacre of 1921, the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890, and the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857). In 2015, there was the Charleston AME shooting, where a 21-year old white man killed 9 Black churchgoers in a racially-motivated hate crime. In 2014, a 22-year-old UCSB student committed the Isla Vista rampage, killing 6.
In 2012, a young man killed 26 people, mostly children, at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. In 2007, a Virginia Tech senior killed 32 other students on campus. And in 1999, two high school students at Columbine High School used four guns and two pipe bombs to murder 13 others.
Mass shootings are not a uniquely American problem, but other countries have found much more success in curbing the shootings. In Australia, the 1996 massacre of Port Arthur killed 35, sparking national change. After the shooting, the country banned automatic and semi-automatics assault rifles and pump shotguns, created a gun registry, and established a 28-day waiting period for firearms. Since the 1996 policy changes, there have been 0 mass shootings in Australia to date.
England has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the world. After the 1987 Hungerford Massacre, the country banned most semi-automatic long-barreled weapons, and after the 1996 Dunblane School Massacre, also banned most small firearms. Although there has been one mass shooting since then, which killed 12 in 2010, the shooter in that case used his own legally-owned guns.
In Canada, guns are legal, but a 1977 ruling established a requirement for potential gun-buyers to get a background check before purchasing. While this has curbed killings, there have still been 11 mass shootings since the 1977 law - one of which was actually committed by a U.S. citizen, who brought his handgun to Canada - and the deadliest of which was a school shooting at the Ecole Polytechnique. The school shooter in that case was also a young man, who killed mostly women engineering students because, in his own words, he hated feminists.
From 1995 to 2012 in Canada, all guns had to be registered, but each state dropped this requirement, eventually including Quebec because of a Supreme Court decision in 2015. While Canada does still struggle with mass shootings, it is a fraction of the problem in the U.S.
In the United States, a study by the Guardian found that in the 20 deadliest shootings in 2015, most of the gunmen used their own, legally-owned firearms. President Obama, in an attempt to follow through on his campaign promises, has made several attempts to strengthen gun control laws. However, most of those bills died in the Senate, so there has not been much gun control reform in the past few years. From comparing U.S. laws to other countries' laws, how do we stack up? Tell us your opinion in the comments below!
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